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This must be the place

art theplaceWhat are you thinking about?

Staring out the window, the question asked shook me out of a trance. My gaze drifted to the femme fatale who just got out of my bed, putting her clothes back on and heading into an unknown day. She posed the question inquisitively, and I took me a moment to respond.

“You know, I’m not really sure,” I said. 

And I really wasn’t. I knew I was thinking about something, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was. Whatever those thoughts were, they swirled around my head and into the cosmos like fall leaves on a windy New England afternoon. To be honest, I could have sworn it was the simple notion of clarity that appears on the morning of your 30th birthday — a surreal sense of being, of place and time, where all does seem to fit seamlessly into the puzzle of your existence.

Ever since I turned 20, I’ve wondered where I’d be in the next decade of my life. I often thought about what lay ahead on that horizon I’m always running toward. And today, that curiosity became a reality. The night prior I found myself hoisting beers high at Innovation Brewing in Sylva with my publisher. We had just concluded a successful business meeting with a long-time magazine client. Work done, time for birthday beverages.

About two sips into my second Double IPA we began talking about nothing and everything, with topics hovering around turning 30 and what more could our newspaper be, what more could I become in my own pursuits, as a writer and a human being? 

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I spent my entire 20s running around like a chicken with my head cutoff. None of those road weary endeavors of the flesh, mind and soul were to be purposely self-destructive. Rather, I look at my unrelenting fascination with literally everything around me as my attempt to soak in every ounce of beauty in the world, for none of us know when and where the end of the road lies. 

Thus, it was quite odd how clear my mind was this morning. I felt like one large, heavy, somewhat cumbersome, a tad confusing, and yet utterly satisfying chapter of my life has come to a close. Cue the sound of a bank vault being sealed. 

I feel like I’m in a speeding car, hurdling further down the road, away from the past 10 years. Though my eyes are focused on the road, thoughts are stuck looking behind me, peeking over the seat like a little kid leaving summer camp, at the present life I know which would soon become dusty memories. 

Head for the hills of your 30s, away from the breakups and funerals, the tragedies, but also away from the happiness shared and experienced, for now it is all but memories I grasp firmly, memories placed in the back of the closet of my mind, as the faces I adore become blurrier, where years from now only an outline of our time together remains, a flickering flame of passion I place my hands around to protect from the winds of time. 

I look at time as one moment, where the eras of humanity are always existing, in parallel universes that continually remain in the space you once knew. Like, for example, my youth — your youth (our youth) — wasn’t a linear thing, it’s cylindrical and constantly moving, only we can’t, at least not now, enter those worlds, but we know in our souls they are out there, somewhere. I don’t think things just happen and time moves forward, I think it’s all one thing, you know? Where the ebb and flow of your surroundings is all one fluid motion of “us” and “it all.”

Sorry, it got a little deep there, eh? My thoughts, like my actions, have always been a rabbit hole, where I find I can’t stop exploring. And maybe that’s the whole point — to learn, where perpetuating your knowledge and never giving up on your desires is all we have in life. Maybe all of this is one big dream we eventually wake up from, a deep sleep in the subconscious of the heavens.

Your life is a direct result of your actions and intent. Every day you wake up and open your eyes to the world is another clean slate, another blank page in the book of “you,” a story only you possess and can tell. 

And don’t forget about what it means to be alive. Go see live music. Hit the mountain trails. Wrap your hands around a pint of craft beer. Practice and preach “The Golden Rule.” Don’t be afraid of love, it is the greatest feeling there is. Learn something today you didn’t know yesterday. Each fresh, local produce. A conversation with a dear friend over a cup of coffee in a diner is the center of the Universe. If you are going to be mean to someone, wait five seconds and the anger will immediately fade. Listen to the rainfall outside your window as John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” plays in the background. Tell those you love how much they mean to you, and do it often. Oh, and go Red Sox.

Life is beautiful, grasp for it, y’all.


Hot picks

1 The annual Outhouse Race will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 14 at the Sapphire Valley Ski Area.

2 Pierce Edens & The Dirty Work (Americana) will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 14 at BearWaters Brewing in Waynesville.

3 Darren & The Buttered Toast (soul/funk) will perform at 9 p.m. Feb. 14 at No Name Sports Pub in Sylva. 

4 The Bohemian Jean Mardi Frog Party (rock/folk) will perform at 6 p.m. Feb. 17 at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville to benefit the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

5 The 2015 Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout & Barrel Aged bottle release will be all-day Feb. 13-14 at Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City.

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